The Availability of Expungement
A criminal conviction can impact many aspects of your life, from housing to employment. Fortunately, for some people, it is possible to expunge a prior criminal record. As the Arkansas expungement statute highlights, the term “expunge” does not mean that criminal records are erased or destroyed. Rather, they are sealed and treated as confidential.
Expungement eligibility depends on several factors. If you were charged and arrested but the charges were dismissed, acquitted or deemed nolle prosequi, you can petition the court for expungement.
However, if you have been convicted of a crime, you must meet very specific criteria that pertain to the nature of the crime and when it was committed. In many cases, your eligibility for expungement after completing your prison sentence or probation depends on your criminal history, including prior felony convictions.
If you have an arrest or conviction expunged, you are considered to have a “clean record” for most purposes (the most significant exception is if you are charged with a crime in the future). However, expungement only restores your right to carry a gun in certain circumstances, such as those sentenced under the Arkansas First Offender Act. In many other cases, a pardon, rather than an expungement, is necessary to restore gun rights.
Getting a criminal record expunged is a complicated legal process. You must file a petition to seal records and may even be required to attend a court hearing. Therefore, it is useful to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.